November 3, 2012

Weekday priority for Hatteras residents
on emergency ferries begins Monday


Dare County has listened to Hatteras residents who need to leave the island for doctor’s appointments, jobs, and other business and has announced that beginning Monday, Nov. 5, priority boarding will be given to Hatteras Island residents traveling weekdays on the emergency ferry service between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe. 

Priority boarding for residents will be done Monday through Friday and requires a driver’s license with a Hatteras Island address. 

The weekday priority will be given to residents boarding on either side of the emergency ferry route behind vehicles with essential commodities, recovery supplies, and those with medical priorities, as determined by Dare County Emergency Management and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Many readers posted comments on the Island Free Press website yesterday and today about the long wait for the emergency ferry, which began running on Tuesday.

Until yesterday, entry to Hatteras was restricted to supply and repair trucks, non-resident property owners, and residents.  Yesterday at 6 a.m., visitors were also allowed to use the emergency ferries.

Thursday and Friday, the lines were long at both Stumpy Point and Rodanthe.  Yesterday waits of up to 10 hours were not unusual.

Julia Yeisgst of Hatteras village wrote:

“I don’t understand the emergency ferry system." On Friday. I had a doctor’s appointment in Nags Head. I left at 5 a.m. I live in Hatteras village and have lived here for 25 years. My appointment was at 11:15 a.m. I missed my appointment because I was not allowed on the ferry until 9 a.m. My doctor did fit me in. Then the journey home began. We went straight to the ferry terminal. The lines were three miles long, most out of state. I had a massive heart attack three years ago and have since then been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I am on 16 meds a day. Not that I want any special treatment, but I had to show a receipt from my doctor’s appointment and prescriptions I was on so I could get back on the ferry at 3 instead of 2 in the morning. I was flabbergasted! What is the point in the ferry if it takes you almost 24 hours to get home? In line were all kind of out-of-state cars with loud music and occupants drinking beer out of their sunroofs. I don't understand any of this. Someone please help me understand why we have to wait so long to board a ferry to go to a doctor’s appointment and pray we get home the same day!”
Another reader sent us this comment late last night, “Ferry is a disaster. Been here since 3 p.m. and hope to get on at 5:30 a.m. Priority boarding should still be factor.”

And another comment from a traveler: “Was there in Stumpy Point last night and wait times were 7 to10 hours depending, plus 2 1/2 ferry ride, so plan on 9-12 hours total. Bring a snack and a book.”
The county is hoping that with the three extra ferries that were added today, waiting times will be reduced. There are now 10 runs from each side.

Dare County manager Bobby Outten said today that the thinking is that most visitors are coming and going on the weekends, and the major traffic on the ferry will be on weekdays with trucks bringing supplies, service and repair trucks, and residents.

Supplies and repair and service trucks will retain priority, but residents will be allowed on before visitors.

You should still be prepared to wait and not make trips off the island if you don’t have medical or business reasons.

If the N.C. Department of Transportation hits its estimate, the inconvenience will last only a few weeks.  DOT officials have said they hope to open the road by Thanksgiving.

Visitors should also consider taking the ferries from the mainland – from Swan Quarter or Cedar Island – and then taking the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry to the island.  You can make reservations on the ferries from the mainland to Ocracoke, which will reduce your wait time.

Emergency ferry schedule
Those wishing to use the emergency route are reminded to expect long waits and to be patient, as priority status is still in effect.
The Stumpy Point-Rodanthe schedule, beginning Saturday, Nov. 3 is:

  • Departing Stumpy Point at 5 a.m., 6:30, 8, 9:30, 11, 12:30 p.m., 2, 3:30, 5 and 9:30.
  • Departing Rodanthe at 6 a.m., 7:30, 9, 10:30, noon, 1:30 p.m., 3, 4:30, 6 and 7:30.

Ferry information is available by calling 800-293-3779 (BY-FERRY) and pressing 1, or via Twitter at

Directions to the Stumpy Point Emergency Ferry Dock at 100 Log Storage Road, off Highway 264:  Take Highway 64 to Highway 264.  Follow Highway 264 approximately 13 miles past the entrance to the village of Stumpy Point.  Signs for emergency ferry service are posted to ferry entrance that will be on your left. 

Directions to the Rodanthe Emergency Ferry Dock at 23170 Myrna Peters Road, Rodanthe:  Turn west off Highway 12 onto Myrna Peters Road, which is located just north of the Community Building in Rodanthe. 

Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry schedule

Visitors can now enter Hatteras Island via the Hatteras Inlet ferry. The ferry is still running every two hours.

The Hatteras-Ocracoke schedule is:

  • Departing Hatteras at 6 a.m., 8, 10, noon, 2 p.m., 4, 6, 8, 10 and midnight; and
  • Departing Ocracoke at 5 a.m., 7, 9, 11, 1 p.m., 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11.

For visitors wishing to come to Hatteras through Ocracoke, keep in mind that travel from Cedar Island to Ocracoke and Swan Quarter to Ocracoke requires a reservation by calling 1-800-293-3779.

Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferries

For schedules and reservations on the ferries from the mainland to Ocracoke, go to the N.C. Ferry Division website at

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